Secret fund spending doubles in May, Erdoğan’s rallies may be covered by state money: Report
AA PhotoThe presidency’s discretionary fund spending more than doubled in May compared to the previous month, suggesting that the fund was used to cover President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s controversial rallies before the June 7 general election, daily Cumhuriyet reported on June 16.
The May budget figures, which were announced on June 15, show that spending from the discretionary fund by the prime ministry and the presidency was 109.1 million Turkish Liras, more than double the 51.5 million liras spent in April.
A regulation granting a discretionary fund for the presidency, which had been exclusive to the prime ministry, was passed as part of a government-sponsored omnibus bill in parliament’s General Assembly on March 27, despite objection from opposition parties.
It is not known for sure whether the sharp increase in discretionary fund spending was caused only by the presidency, as the enactment defining how and on what the fund is spent is signed by the president himself and is not published in the Official Gazette.
Erdoğan held a series of large public rallies in the last month before the election under the guise of public facility “opening ceremonies.” He spoke in provinces across the country, slamming the opposition and asking the electorate to give him “400 deputies” in parliament, without directly mentioning the “name of the party in my heart.”
Erdoğan has been leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) since its establishment in 2001 and the country’s prime minister since 2002 until 2014, when he was elected as president.
Bearing in mind these rallies and observing no increase in other presidency expenditure budget in May from April, the likelihood of the discretionary fund being used for Erdoğan’s rallies increases.
During a rally in Diyarbakır on May 2, he had said he was “traveling with the state’s money” and this was his “most natural right.”
According to the controversial new regulation in parliament The president can use the fund “for state necessities that contain discreet intelligence and defense services; the national security and higher interests of the state; political, social and cultural purposes; and extraordinary services.” The law also made changes to the Public Finance Management and Control Law, which provides discretionary funding for the prime ministry.